Friday, June 28, 2013

AWB: Transportation Package Needed This Session

AWB President Don Brunell appealed to lawmakers in the state Senate today to unite around a transportation package that will keep Washington state moving forward.

“Our ability to move people, goods and services across all corners of Washington is essential to not only our quality of life, but our economic vitality. Good roads and timely access to ports are essential to our overall competitiveness.

“The House took action on a transportation plan and we encourage the Senate to come together and finish the job. We need a transportation package approved this session. Our roads, bridges and highways can’t wait any longer and pushing it to the next session will only increase costs. We need to invest in transportation now.” 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Auto Dealers Seek to Cleanup Tacoma’s ‘Lost Highway’

Today Mary Byrne, General Manager of Tacoma’s Bruce Titus and the first woman President of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association, presented to the Tacoma City Council Economic Development Committee, providing an overview of the economic impact Tacoma auto dealerships have on the community as well as how the City can work with dealers toward improving South Tacoma’s Auto Row, creating an improved shopping experience for car buyers.

Tacoma auto dealers, both new and used, make significant financial contributions to the City. In 2011 and 2012 alone, dealers paid just under $10.5 million in sales and B&O taxes, roughly 2.5% of the City’s biennium General Fund budget. Furthermore, Tacoma’s 19 new car dealers employ an average of 56 employees each (1,064 total employees in Tacoma) with an average salary of $49,500. This totals an annual payroll of over $2.7 million per new car dealer. Auto dealers also make substantial philanthropic donations to Tacoma’s community of over $500,000 each year.

Additionally, Byrne identified the following key issues facing Tacoma’s auto dealers: vehicles often parked on the sidewalk of South Tacoma Way; painting of the right-of-way; difficult sign code; illegal activities in the area; and the overall streetscape appearance of Tacoma’s Auto Row. Byrne noted that auto dealers seek to work with the City toward solving these issues and improving the area.

Byrne also suggested the difficulty in getting new car buyers to South Tacoma Way, or Tacoma’s ‘Lost Highway.’ South Tacoma Way has a long history serving Tacoma’s auto dealers. However, improved wayfinding signs that direct people to Tacoma’s Auto Row could be utilized to help promote Tacoma as a regional auto buying hub.

Lastly, Byrne described how comparative tax rates affect Tacoma auto dealers. For instance, Tacoma’s B&O tax make nearby cities, such as Fife and Puyallup, more attractive to conduct business. Similarly, sales tax increases, even at a minor three tenths of a percent, puts Tacoma auto dealers at an enormous competitive disadvantage to surrounding cities, such as Roy, and states, such as Oregon.

Auto dealers are an important part of Tacoma’s economic and community development, and provide Tacoma with jobs, revenue, and philanthropy that make Tacoma a better place to live, work, and play.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SBA Comes to Seattle on National Tour

UPDATE 6-17-13:  In celebration of National Small Business Week, the Chamber is featuring a small business every day this week on the Chamber's Facebook page! Featured businesses will be randomly chosen from attendees who provided business cards in the card drop bowl at the 6-14-13 Chamber Luncheon.

WHAT: Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight through National Small Business Week the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories.
This year’s event will be held June 16-21, in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. offering tips, tools and trainings for small businesses to start, succeed and grow.  In addition to in-person events, small business owners can participate in online-only panel discussions on hot topics like social media and business financing starting daily at 4 p.m. ET. All events, in-person and online, will be streamed live on The event hashtag is #SBW2013.

Confirmed speakers for the 12:15 Government Contracting Opportunities for Women-Owned Businesses panel include:
• Barbara Kasoff, President, Women Impacting Public Policy (Moderator)
• John Bagaason, Procurement Analyst, US Small Business Administration
• Cara Buckingham, Information Manager, Birch Equipment Rentals & Sales
• Trina Payton, President, ABN Technologies

The U.S. Small Business Administration in partnership with WIPP

Monday June 17, 2013
8:30 AM – 3:15 PM

Microsoft Campus, Building 37 in Redmond, Wash.


Media must RSVP to attend. Please contact Jessie Kramer at or (212) 539-3284.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tacoma Incubator Opportunity Machine

Bridgett Crews, co-owner of the newly established Free- Range Kitchen, the first culinary incubator in Tacoma, presented to the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee. The Free- Range Kitchen provides a small, commercial kitchen space to Tacoma area culinary entrepreneurs who are just starting out. The incubator provides “small-scale food producers access to shared, rentable resources in an effort to eliminate the deterrent of high start-up costs and inaccessible resources” (Gallagher, 2013).

The incubator provides a network filled with opportunities, aids new entrepreneurs on the confusing process of starting a business, and “takes care of the overhead costs, so you can focus on making good food,” said Crews.

Crews also mentioned that many food vendors who currently sell their products at Tacoma’s seasonal farmers markets want to sell year round, regardless of the rain, suggesting the need for an open market space in Tacoma.

You might recall last October when we discussed the Urban Land Institute’s presentation to the Committee regarding economic development for Tacoma’s Brewery District.  The Brewery District is the area south of downtown and adjacent to the University of Washington, Tacoma campus and the Dome District.

In the presentation, it was noted that the district had many historic buildings that could be transformed and used for entertainment, regular events, such as indoor markets, and recreational centers. The presentation and corresponding report recommended the City partner with a private developer and create a new market for these buildings. Councilman Boe also mentioned the ULI’s report, noting opportunities with participating property owners and how the Rite Aid parking lot had the potential for an open-air market.

“Tacoma is a well spring of creative, imaginative minds… the incubator serves as an opportunity machine,” said Crews, helping food producers launch their businesses.


Gallagher, A. (2013). Memorandum to T.C. Broadnax, City Manager: Culinary Incubator Update. City of Tacoma.

Tacoma Restaurants More Than Just Food

In Tacoma, restaurants are more than just a place to get food and beverages. Monique Trudnowski asserts that in Tacoma, restaurants are people.

Trudnowski, owner of Adriatic Grill and Chair of the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Board, presented to the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee today, briefly describing Tacoma’s food service industry, consisting of 551 restaurants, employing 7,857 workers, and annual gross sales over $370 million.

But Tacoma restaurants are more than just numbers. They are proud community stewards, often donating time and resources to important community causes, organizations, and charities. They also provide a tax base and are a strong part of our community.

Further, Trudnowski noted that restaurants provide honest wages, experiential equity, and flexible schedules for college students, grandparents, and others. They provide “the opportunity to grow as much or as little as you want. It’s entirely up to you,” said Trudnowski (as quoted by Donahoe, 2013).

Trudnowski also mentioned that while she developed a recycling program at her restaurant that decreased their garbage pickup by one third, Tacoma does not have a system in place to compost food scraps, a major source of waste for restaurants that could be an opportunity for improvement. She also advocated for greater involvement and support for restaurants by business districts, leading Councilman Boe to suggest the development of a progressive Bike Ride through each Business District that hit various local restaurants.

According to Trudnowski, the top three obstacles facing restaurants include rent/lease costs, labor specific legislation, and the volume of visitors or diners in Tacoma. She noted the first three years are the most fragile time for restaurants, and land owner incentives could help promote tenant longevity, especially pertaining to the first few difficult years of business.


Donahoe, H. (2013, May). Washington wins big: National Restaurant Association honors two of Washington’s best. Washington Restaurant Magazine. Olympia, WA: Washington Restaurant Association.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chamber Website Experiencing Server Issues

Update number 1: June 10, 1:40 pm - server issues resolved, website is accessible.

The Chamber's website,, is experiencing server issues.  The web host is aware and working on a solution.

The Events Calendar and Business Directory are not affected by the issue and are up and running.

We appreciate visitors' patience while the issue is being resolved.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Join Pierce County Council for Briefing on U.S. Open

If you are interested in learning more about preparations for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, come to a special meeting of the Pierce County Council, to be held June 27 at the county’s Environmental Services Building in University Place.

Danny Sink, the United States Golf Association’s on-site championship director, will make a presentation that covers many of the questions area residents have about the event. The meeting will be hosted by County Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, whose 4th District includes University Place.

What: Special meeting of the Pierce County Council
When: 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27
Where: Environmental Services Building, 9850 64th St. W, University Place, WA 98467
Why: To present information to the public about the U.S. Open

For more information, contact Councilmember Connie Ladenburg at (253) 798-7590.

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Down to the Wire for the Transportation Package!

As an involved local business, the Chamber urges passage of the Transportation Package that includes several projects that will have significant and substantial positive impact on Pierce County’s economy. 

With four days left in the Special Session, your Pierce County legislators need to hear from you and get the booster and support they need to VOTE YES and pass the Transportation package that includes SR 167.  This means up to as many as 80,000 good paying jobs, this means growing our economy in Pierce County , and this means putting us on the global competitive map . . . as a concerned business you should not let this go. Your legislators need to know businesses are fully supportive of this package, which includes transportation efficiency measures meant to reduce the costs of transportation projects.

This package will be an economic game-changer for our region and state providing both long and short-term job and economic development and growth.  This package can’t wait another year!

           Completion of SR 167
           Completion of Hwy 509
           $175 Million for I5 improvements along JBLM
           $54 Million for Yelm Loop
           $35 Million for the Triangle Project
           $5.4 Million for Hwy 16 Frontage Rd & SR 302 Study & EIS
           Funds for Highway maintenance and repairs
           WSDOT Reforms including Design Build for projects like SR 167
           Funded by a 10 cent gas tax

Please urge your representatives and senators to urge their leadership to bill the Transportation package up for a vote and to vote “yes” now!

Email your Pierce County Delegation

2nd Legislative District: Sen. Randi Becker, Reps. Gary Alexander and J.T. Wilcox.

25th District: Sen. Bruce Dammeier, Reps. Dawn Morrell and Hans Zeiger.

26th District: Sen. Nathan Schlicher, Reps. Jan Angel and Larry Seaquist.

27th District: Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Reps. Laurie Jinkins and Jake Fey.

28th District: Sen. Steve O’Ban and Rep. Tami Green.

29th District: Sen. Steve Conway, Reps. David Sawyer and Steve Kirby

30th District: Sen. Tracey Eide, Reps. Linda Kochmar and Roger Freeman

31st District: Sen. Pam Roach, Reps. Cathy Dahlquist and Christopher Hurst

Email message should say:

As an involved local business, I urge you to pass the Transportation Package that includes several projects that will have significant and substantial positive impact on Pierce County’s economy. This package will be an economic game-changer for our region and state providing both long and short-term job and economic development and growth.  This package can’t wait another year!

•    Completion of SR 167
•    Completion of SR 509
•    $175 Million for I5 improvements along JBLM
•    $54 Million for Yelm Loop
•    $35 Million for the Triangle Project
•    $5.4 Million for Hwy 16 Frontage Rd & SR 302 Study & EIS
•    Funds for Highway maintenance and repairs
•    WSDOT Reforms including Design Build for projects like SR 167
•    Funded by a 10 cent gas tax

Please urge your representatives and senators to urge their leadership to bring the Transportation Package up for a vote and to vote “yes” now!

More information here:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chamber Rallies Businesses - Voices Heard

When businesses act together we are an effective voice to affect decisions about important issues.

After the News Tribune article last week, the Chamber shared the news with its members and asked them to weigh in. Tacoma Councilmembers have said they were flooded with emails from concerned businesses about new regulations mandating sick leave. In response, Councilmembers did not add the topic to their Committee of the Whole meeting today as initially planned. As a result, the reported intent to bring this issue to action by the Council today did NOT happen.

The issue of mandating sick leave continues to crop up in metropolitan areas across the nation where special interest groups believe they have sufficiently sympathetic civic leadership and historic support. To keep members abreast of happenings with mandated sick leave, the Chamber has established a dedicated webpage at

We expect this will not be the last attempt by special interests to propose this issue without discussions with the businesses impacted.

The Chamber will keep its members informed of developing aspects of this issue locally and will maintain this new communications link – the dedicated webpage for continuing coverage.

Chamber Responds to Rumors of Sick Leave Mandate

The Chamber has responded to rumors that the Tacoma City Council will consider a directive to city staff to study/prepare legislation establishing a mandated sick leave regulation.  This regulation would impact those doing business in Tacoma as well as those located in Tacoma.   More background information will be provided by the Chamber.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Pierce Co. Council Sets Special Meeting for Appointment

The Pierce County Council has scheduled a special meeting to address appointing a State Senator to the district vacated by the passing of Sen. Mike Carrell.

UPDATE #1:  The Pierce County Council selected State Representative Steve O'Ban as the new 28th District State Senator.  

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Get Involved: Apply for Tacoma Commissions

The Tacoma City Council is looking to fill positions on two different commissions. City commissions are established by City Charter, ordinance, or resolution, and advises the Council on various issues. Committed to being a voice for business and a leader in our community, the Chamber strongly recommends our members get involved in these important citizen groups.

First, three positions are available on the Planning Commission: 1). Resident of Council District 4 (Eastside), 2). Expert on environmental issues, and 3). Resident with background and experience in architecture, historic preservation, and/or urban design.

The Planning Commission advises the City Council on numerous issues, such as mixed-use centers development, land use and development regulations, transportation, and others. Members meet at 4 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Planning Commission applications are due June 14, 2013.

The Tacoma City Council is also looking for 11 members for the newly established Transportation Commission, which will advise the Council on transportation-related matters, such as short and long-term transportation planning, compliance with local, regional, and federal transportation regulations, alternative transportation planning initiatives, and parking and capital improvement plans. Nine voting members from the City’s five Council districts with a wide range of perspectives and expertise will be selected, as well as two non-voting members appointed by the City Manager.

If you have expertise in the professional engineering sector, construction/private business sector, bike and pedestrian/mass transit sector, planning/urban growth sector, environmental/sustainability sector, or general community and ADA community and are a resident of Tacoma, you should consider applying.

Applications for the Transportation Commission are due June 21, 2013.